Footy crime mystery solved as NRL legend finally outs himself as the top sportsman charged with importing meth after a desperate battle to keep his name a secret – and he could face LIFE in prison if found guilty
- Former rugby league international Manu Vatuvei reveals shocking secret to fans
- Charged with importation, possession and supply of methamphetamine in 2019
- Denied the charges and vowed to fight for innocence while requesting privacy
- Was recently given until Tuesday to appeal for his name to remain suppressed
- But in candid Instagram video, the Warriors icon told fans he would fight charges
A former NRL star and New Zealand international has outed himself as the sportsman facing a string of methamphetamine charges, which could land him a life sentence in prison if found guilty.
Manu Vatuvei, 35, shocked the sporting world on Sunday night when he revealed he was charged with possessing methamphetamine for supply and allegedly importing the Class A drug in late 2019.
The New Zealand Warriors icon has denied all the charges against him but could face the rest of his life behind bars if convicted.
Having fought to keep to keep his identity a secret since the charges were laid, Vatuvei broke his 16-month silence by addressing the allegations in an Instagram video 48 hours ahead of the deadline to take his fight to the Court of Appeal.
The former Warriors winger, nicknamed ‘The Beast’ during his NRL career, began the video saying he ‘needed to get something off his chest.’
Manu Vatuvei (pictured right with wife Jenny) has confirmed he was charged with importation, possession and supply of methamphetamine. He denies the charges against him
‘It’s been holding me down for a while and I’d rather you hear it from me than the media,’ the father-of-five told his 116,000 followers.
‘In 2019, I was charged with importation, possession and supply of methamphetamine. All of these charges are accusations and I will be fighting my innocence for these charges.
‘I know there’ll be a lot of questions … but I’ve been advised from my legal team that’s all I can talk about.’
Vatuvei ended the video by requesting his wishes of privacy for him and his young family be respected while he goes through this ‘battle’.
The star’s bid for name suppression was first rejected last November and then again by the High Court last month, Stuff reported.
High Court judge Justice Rebecca Edwards gave him until 5pm on Tuesday to appeal the ruling in the Court of Appeal.
Manu Vatuvei (pictured) broke a 16-month silence on Sunday night in a short Instagram video to say he will be fighting the charges and protesting his innocence
His employer told the court at a previous hearing in November that it would be forced to ‘reconsider’ Vatuvei’s employment as a real estate agent if his identity was revealed.
Vatuvei also argued losing name suppression would result in losing future media appearances and opportunities, the publication reported.
While Judge David McIlraith conceded in his 2020 ruling that Vatuvei’s high public profile could result in more publicity, he didn’t believe revealing his identity would affect his right to a fair trial.
‘The alleged offending in which Vatuvei is involved is serious. It involves the importation of significant amounts of methamphetamine into New Zealand,’ he said.
‘There is nothing unusual about [the defendant’s] situation.’
Manu Vatuvei (pictured)’s bid for name suppression was rejected by the High Court in April
Manu Vatuvei (pictured his wife Jenny) requested his wish for his and his family’s privacy be respected while he fights the alleged charges
Vatuvei is one of three men charged over the alleged drugs, with the case scheduled to go to trial later this year.
Another man faces two counts of importing methamphetamine, and one count of possession for supply while a third man is also facing charges.
Vatuvei played 226 NRL games for the Warriors over a long career spanning 13 seasons, followed by a brief eight-game stint in the UK for the Salford Red Devils.
He also played 29 internationals for New Zealand and two for Tonga.
Post-retirement, Vatuvei turned to boxing and won his first and only fight as a professional boxer.
He also won New Zealand’s version of Dancing with the Stars in 2019.
Manu Vatuvei (pictured playing for the Warriors in 2016) could face life in prison if convicted. He has denied charges alleged against him